January is increasingly becoming Dry for many binge drinkers – keen to give their livers a rest after the festivities – and a time of fasting. But there’s a new craze becoming just as commonplace… Veganuary. But as more and more people turn their backs on all things related to animal products, is wine getting a let-off? Why is wine often not vegan? and can it ever truly be vegan? Armit Wines brand manager Alex Hill explains the background to this conundrum and also asks – do vegans actually care one way or the other?
There is so much research and analysis into the opportunities, but also the perils of creating a brand that is aimed directly at appealing to millennials. But it is a tightrope that Ross Sleet has been prepared to walk across by creating the Rascallion wine brand that deliberately looks to not only get millennials on board, but also connect with Generation X. In this fascinating piece he talks openly about the thought process involved and how travelling the world and talking, listening and seeing how people, young and old, connect with wine and brands in general has helped Rascallion become an international success.
Although the Prime Minister boasts that he has ‘Got Brexit Done’, the hard work has only really just begun as the UK attempts to secure a trade deal with the European Union before its self-imposed deadline of December 31, 2020. As a director and co-owner of Cramele Recas, Romania’s largest exporter of bottled wine, Philip Cox has an unique perspective on these trade negotiations in a post-Brexit world. Given that Romania only joined the European Union in 2007, Cox has first hand practical experience of exporting wine to the UK both as a member of the EU and as a non-member. He is also English, understands the British psyche, and fears that the nation is sleepwalking into a restrictive trading environment that will severely hinder trade. In this insightful piece Cox details the many steps that Brexit will add to wine import and export – with VAT, customs declarations, labelling, Preferential origin certificates, VI1 forms – and which ones he believes the UK wine trade needs to actively lobby against now, or face a nightmare of added administration and costs.
“It’s not a career I ever sat down and chose, but it’s certainly a unique and exciting one to have ended up in. Particularly as I started out as a van driver in Majestic Swindon.” Now that could be a sentence to introduce any number of people in the wine trade, who have stumbled into the career they now have in wine. But this one belongs to Jack Merrylees who heads up the PR for Majestic Wine. Which is a job title that, as he explains, covers a lot of remits, from emptying spittoons at press tastings to handling urgent calls from the national press.
“Last year Yasmeen, Cathy, Brian, Imran and Sean had a wine tasting in Coronation Street. That didn’t make it to the papers. Because today wine is part of everyday life for people in every corner of the UK. What did make the papers was when Coronation Street’s script writers mistakenly suggested a large glass of red would cost just £3.00. Viewers knew that was a real piece of fiction.” Joe Fattorini on typically blistering form as he makes a passionate case for a cut in wine duties in the Budget.
First mentioned by the Bard, and shipped back to Blighty by the boatload in the 16th Century, the wines of Tenerife have long been admired for their quality and individuality. Geoffrey Dean went there to discover the island’s 6,500 hectares under own-rootstock vine, its dozen local grape varieties, five DOs, half a dozen wineries that are pushing the envelope, and tasted and recommends the wines that are worth seeking out. Dean also finds that wine tourism is alive and well, particularly in the European winter months.
The wine trade descends upon Montpellier today as it plays host to the 27th edition of Millésime Bio, the world’s largest organic wine fair. The Buyer’s Mike Turner headed down earlier this month to judge the gold, silver, and bronze medals and to find out what’s in store for Europe’s wine buyers. As Turner discovered, where being organic was almost a handicap two to three decades ago, organic certification is fast becoming expected by the consumer as the new norm.
In advance of Armit’s en primeur tasting on January 15th Burgundy buyer Nicolas Clerc MS explains how a range rationalisation was an important part of increasing sales of Burgundy 2017 – concentrating efforts on the producers that they think are a better fit for their customers. Wines will be positioned in the market differently according to producer, price point, scarcity, vintage quality, as well as the wider conversations Armit has with their suppliers.
When the London Wine Competition launched in 2017 it was the first global event of its kind to not just judge the wines on their quality, but also how much they cost, and what they looked like. It was soon followed by similar events to cover beers and spirits to create a full drinks awards programme. Here’s details on how to enter the separate competitions for this year and the added benefits for doing so with publicity, partnerships and coverage at major trade fairs in Europe and the US.
Bourgogne Week is now in full flow with almost 20 tastings taking place in London this week, but how well do you know what the 2018 vintage is actually like? In this season-by-season snapshot Corney & Barrow’s Burgundy buyer Guy Seddon explains why the 2018 vintage is starting to reveal itself as one where “ripeness meets precision”. It was a warm vintage for sure – just for fun, Domaine Pierre Morey made a sweet late harvest Chardonnay from its Bourgogne Blanc parcels, picked on 25th October! – but Seddon explains why the heat does not necessarily equate to it being a ‘low acidity’ year across the board.
When Wine Paris opened its doors for the first time last February there must have been a mixture of excitement and apprehension about whether launching a new major wine show was what the trade wanted. The overwhelmingly positive response means there is real momentum going into the second Wine Paris event this year, particularly on the back of the news that its owners, Comexposium, has signed a new joint venture with Vinexpo, that is also launching its first Paris show alongside Wine Paris this February, to host future events together. So what can we expect from Wine Paris second time around? Here’s managing director, Pascale Ferranti, to tell us…
Just as the last drops of bubbles were drained from a zillion bottles of Champagne on New Years Eve, our roving reporter and sparkling wine expert Roger Jones unsheathed his laptop and sent in this report on the global rise and changing face of the sparkling wine industry and which are the names we should all be keeping an eye on as we head into 2020 proper. As ambassador to the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC), and founder of Sparkling Sundays (held in Cape Town and Little Bedwyn) he gets his fair share of bubbles.
For the UK wine trade, January marks not only the start of a new year, but also when all our attention turns to Bourgogne Week and the chance for buyers, merchants, sommeliers and retailers to discover and taste the latest vintage available on the market. The encouraging news is that the 2018 vintage is one of those rare beasts in Bourgogne – good in both quality and quantity – which will allow the trade and consumers to experiment more with the ‘in-between’ appellations that offer great value for money but don’t always get the attention they deserve says Anne Moreau, Co-President of the communications commission for the Bourgogne Wine Board (BIVB).
Business is good in Burgundy, the first nine months of 2019 saw volume and value increase by 11% and 12% respectively and the 2018 vintage has managed to replenish stocks in the region. But life is never straightforward, especially for Louis-Fabrice Latour, one of the most powerful men in Burgundy, owner of Maison Louis Latour, VP of the French wine export association and co-president of Burgundy trade body the BIVB. The 25% US tariffs are already having an impact on French still wine, there is the possibility of this increasing to 100%, Brexit is looming and the result of the 2019 crop that is the smallest since 2003, is that prices look set to rise next year by at least 20%. In a candid interview Latour tells Peter Dean that it is the uncertainty of the US tariffs that is the biggest challenge as he spins a number if plates, including the final merger of Burgundy with Beaujolais.
This March’s breakthrough One Step Beyond conference hopes to tackle the most disruptive changes taking place in technology by assessing how they are changing every day consumer behaviour and, crucially, what the drinks industry needs to be doing to both understand what this new technology is all about, but which aspects of it are the most relevant and potentially impactful on our sector. But be careful not to rush into thinking simply applying the most disruptive elements of this new ‘biztech’ into your company will be the answer to all your problems, warns Joe Fattorini. Instead, he claims, in this thought provoking analysis, that what we really need to develop are new skills for thinking about technology, trends and innovations. That will be the key to really understanding what new technology is relevant to your business needs, but most of all how to introduce it in the most effective way possible.
The New Year is understandably the time of the year when it feels right to assess your own life and look back at your achievements and what goals you have for the year ahead. But if that all sounds a bit overwhelming, why not celebrate and admire the successes of others which is very much the spirit of The Buyer’s new series: The 3 Things In Drinks I Wish I’d Been Part Of. Which is what Nicky Forrest, managing director of drinks PR agency, Phipps Relations, is happy to do here.
Following the very sad announcement today that the much loved and highly respected Hazel Murphy has died of cancer we pay tribute to the impact she had on the wine industry around the world, particularly during her time at Australian Wine Bureau in the 1990’s, when she did so much to promote and support what was then still an emerging wine country. So much so that Rosamund Barton of wine PR agency, R&R Teamwork, chose the work she did to take leading UK wine figures to Australia as the best campaign she has seen during her career in wine.
It’s certainly the time of the year – and decade – to look back on some of the key moments and changes that have taken place in our industry over the last 12 and 120 months. Which has also been our festive challenge for some key figures in the industry to pick out three things in drinks that they wish they could have had a part in. Be it making a particular wine, hosting an event, creating an advertising campaign, writing a book and so on. Next up to share his “3 Things” is Bibendum’s on-trade channel director, John Graves.
We are always looking at The Buyer for new ideas to delve into the world of wine and spirits. So how about this new feature we are introducing to add to the festive cheer. We have asked some key figures in the industry to share some – well three – of the things they most admire in drinks that they wish they had played a part in. It could be a bottle of wine, an advertising campaign, a book, a restaurant or bar. The choice is theirs. First up we turn to the ever creative Joe Fattorini. What are the three things in the drinks industry he wishes he could have been involved in?
As we head into the festive break our minds will soon to be turning to what is around the corner in 2020, but before we do there is still time to look back and reflect on the highs and lows of 2019 through the eyes of some of the sector’s top wine buyers. In the first of a series of buying reports where we ask major buyers from leading importers and distributors to assess the key trends and what impact the global wine market has had on the wines they have been able to buy and bring into the UK over the last 12 months we turn to Paul Braydon, buying controller for Australia, New Zealand and the US at Kingsland Drinks.